HOOVER, Ala. – Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema fielded a call last December from newly-hired Georgia head coach Kirby Smart, who wanted to talk to Bielema’s offensive coordinator, Dan Enos.
That’s a no-go, Bielema told him. Enos has a clause in his contract preventing him from going to another SEC school.
“You can’t have him,” Bielema recalled telling Smart, adding as he recounted the story: “I kind of stuck my tongue out, wiggled my nose and I felt good about it.”
Problem: Bielema’s highly-regarded offensive line coach, Sam Pittman, didn’t have a similar clause. Smart scooped him up, along with Jim Chaney, who had been Bielema’s offensive coordinator before spending 2015 at Pittsburgh.
“One of the first things I didn’t do that I wish I had was I didn’t put an SEC clause on coach Pittman,” Bielema said a bit ruefully on Wednesday at SEC media days. “When I first took over he had an opportunity to leave for Alabama. I was able to do some things financially to make that not happen, and I didn’t put an SEC clause on him.”
Pittman, who had been earning $525,000 a year at Arkansas on a one-year contract, received a three-year deal at Georgia for $650,000 annually. Georgia also paid Arkansas a $250,000 buyout.
Bielema, asked on Wednesday how hard he tried to keep Pittman, didn’t elaborate, but did take a bit of a back-handed shot when he spoke about Kurt Anderson, who he hired as a replacement.
“Everything ends up happening for a reason,” Bielema said. “So when they got Sam, obviously it was something he wanted. But the good news is I was able to retain Dan, and I got a great back-up, a great situation now. The things that Sam was great in, we’ve been trying to continue that forward, but the things he might’ve been a little bit weak in, I wanted a great technician, I wanted someone that really talked about pad level, so I wanted an NFL coach. So I was able to bring in Kurt Anderson, which I’m really excited about.”
Bielema was also asked Wednesday what Georgia is getting in the Chaney-Pittman combination. He wasn’t quite as verbose on that.
“As far as what Georgia is getting, you’ll have to figure that out on your own,” Bielema said.